The 192-member United Nations General Assembly has suspended Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council for committing "gross and systematic violations of human rights," as Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi cracks down violently on a swelling protest movement. Over the weekend, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on the Qaddafi regime and asked that the International Criminal Court investigate whether the government had committed crimes against humanity. Tuesday's vote does not permanently remove Libya from the council.
Will this latest act of international pressure change the course of the Libyan revolution in a meaningful way?
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto thinks the Human Rights Council is a "joke." The Qaddafi regime "did not just start slaughtering and oppressing Libya's people last week," he says. "It has been at it for 42 years. Nonetheless, until just now the regime has been a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council." He points to a U.N. Watch report that the council's member nations--including a "rogue's gallery of tyrannies"--had even planned to adopt a resolution praising Libya's human rights record before the eruption of violence in the country. Venezuelan Ambassador Jorge Valero, meanwhile, expressed concerns about the General Assembly's suspension of Libya given that there hadn't yet been "a genuine investigation."
But others disagree. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called the vote "a harsh rebuke" that "sends another clear warning to Mr. Qaddafi and those who stand by him: They most stop the killing." In a post before the vote, Brett Schaefer at National Review pointed out that the General Assembly has never suspended a member from the Human Rights Council before. Doing so would be the "perfect opportunity for the General Assembly to demonstrate a willingness to hold council members to at least a minimal standard of conduct," he wrote.